With only ten men on the field, Gareth Bale has done his best work in Spurs' last two matches.
Two games, 20 men, six points. In their last two consecutive games, Tottenham Hotspur have managed to get a man sent off. They have won both of those games, including a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United. That win marked our first clean sheet in the English Premier League since the first game of the season against Manchester City, a 0-0 draw.
In both of these games, while Spurs were playing with 10 men against 11, they have scored a goal. Both of these goals were directly or indirectly caused by a fantastic long run by Gareth Bale on a counter-attack. Interestingly enough, in both of these games, Bale was very mediocre before Spurs got a man sent off. Against Aston Villa, one could go so far as to say that he was having a shocker before Spurs' second goal.
Moth matches also saw Rafael van der Vaart playing as a lone striker for an extended period of time, although classifying him as a "lone striker" isn't really fair. It was more like the false nine role that Carlos Tevez played at Manchester United and Francesco Totti played for a bit at Roma. Anyway, he was really good at it. I don't think that anyone would ever think to deploy him in such a way when Spurs have eleven men on the pitch, but it was still really cool to watch.
Spurs have been playing some decent football for a few months now, but I think that some of the best stuff that we've seen from them all season came after they had a man sent off against both Newcastle and Villa. Especially against Villa, we played an insane game of keep-away and eventually ended up with a great goal on the counter. The fans have been chanting at Luka Modric "are you Xavi in disguise?" He hasn't been 95% passing efficiency good, but he's certainly been one of the better passing midfielders in the Premier League as of late.
This weekend, Mark Hughes' struggling Fulham side makes the short trip up the road to White Hart Lane. We might be able to beat them with nine men at this point, but I think we could definitely manage it with 10. Of course, none of those 10 men, or the 11 we'll be starting the game with, will be Jermain Defoe or Younes Kaboul. They're both suspended for picking up straight red cards, and we'll have to do without them. So, happy new year to you, Roman Pavlyuchenko, and Sebastien Bassong. Let's get someone sent off again tomorrow, it's the only way we'll be able to reach our full footballing potential.